E3 '07: Battlestar Galactica Hands-On

The television series gains its first adaptation on the 360 and the PC. We blast some Cylons and report.


Anyone who's been following television over the last couple of years needs no introduction to Battlestar Galactica, the Sci-Fi Channel's updating of the iconic 1970's television show. It's been a massive hit for the Sci-Fi Channel, so it's no surprise that video games based on the property are starting to be released. One of these is the simply titled Battlestar Galactica for the PC and the Xbox Live Arcade marketplace.

This version of BSG isn't a very complicated game, and thus isn't too hard to get the hang of. The single-player game will put you into the ship of one of the Galactica's pilots. The 10 missions on display here will each re-create the missions involved in one of the television series' episodes, so you begin with Boot Camp, a mission that actually takes place during the original miniseries. You'll find yourself practicing your space combat by blasting drones, only to find yourself in the middle of a war when the Cylons suddenly attack. Your job is to drive them away from the Galactica and save the ship. Later missions will re-create episodes like "Fratricide," where Starbuck takes over a fallen Cylon raider and pilots it.

Click to enlarge!
Click to enlarge!

All of this action takes place from a top-down perspective, with your ship moving around on a 2D plane underneath which various larger battles are taking place. You'll see Cylon motherships firing on human capital ships during the tutorial level, and other nice-looking spacescapes during the rest of the missions.

The combat system is fairly intuitive. You have three weapons at your disposal, with two of them, the machine guns and rockets, giving you infinite ammo. The third special weapon apparently depends on the type of ship that you control (the humans and the Cylons each have four ships that they can control), and you need to find ammo for those from ships that you destroy. The action is pretty frenetic, since most of the missions will feature numerous artificial-intelligence-controlled teammates that will fly alongside you to help you take down the Cylons.

In addition to the single-player campaign, there are also instant action and multiplayer modes. Both of these are pretty similar, with instant action basically re-creating the multiplayer experience, but with AI teammates controlling everyone but yourself. Both modes will let you put yourself into either a human or Cylon ship and engage in some large-scale battles. We're told that the largest game options will consist of eight-versus-eight combat.

Overall, Battlestar Galactica is looking like it should be an entertaining but simple arcade shooter that should be accessible to everyone, whether you've followed the television series or not. GameSpot will have more coverage on the title as its fall release date approaches, so stick around.

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